MPs call on Government to stem decline in applied agricultural research funding

A group of MPs has published a report calling on the Government to transfer more public money from basic to applied agricultural and horticultural research.

The Government is being urged to act by its All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Science & Technology in Agriculture. Earlier this month the group presented its report, Support for Agricultural R&D is Essential to Deliver Sustainable Increases in UK Food Production, to farming minister Jim Paice.

Newly-elected APPG chairman George Freeman MP, presenting the report, said: "The emerging global challenges of food security and climate change have brought greater recognition among policy-makers of the role science and innovation can play in helping farmers become more productive and resource-efficient."

"But the UK's capabilities and infrastructure have been seriously eroded over the past 25 years. In particular, the report highlights the urgent need to reverse the progressive withdrawal of public-sector funding for applied research.

"That will involve a switch of funding priorities from basic to applied disciplines, the provision of attractive career opportunities and rewards for applied scientists and new targets for the outputs of agricultural R&D investment based on the sustainable productivity gains needed to meet 2030 global food requirements."

The APPG also wants to see more investment in precision methods to "increase productivity and reduce environmental impact and reliance on hand-labour methods".


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